How to Treat A Burn and When to Seek Medical Help

Most of us will experience some level of burn during our life, if we haven’t already. Whether we are burned while cooking, bathing, from fire, heat, electrocuted, or burned by the sun. In some way, we will probably be burned and looking for advice on treatment. While not all burns should be treated at home, some are not severe enough to require medical treatment.

Burns are classified in three different levels, ranging from one to three. First degree burns being the least severe and third degree burns being the most severe. First-degree burns are usually treated at home. Second-degree burns can also be treated at home, as long as the burns are limited to a small space and not over a large portion of the body. However, trained medical staff with no exceptions should treat third degree burns.

First degree burns, are usually characterized by their localized redness accompanied by minor pain. They affect the epidermis layer of skin, so many sunburns classify as first-degree burns. Second-degree burns are usually noticed by their blistering of the skin, and can be less painful than first-degree burns depending on the amount of nerve damage involved. Second degree burns actually affect the papillary dermis and can involve the reticular dermis skin.

Third- degree burns actually cause the loss of the epidermis layer of skin and cause damage to the subcutaneous layer of tissue. They usually result in loss of hair shafts and keratin in addition to nerve damage. Third degree burns may require skin grafting. While there are forth degree burns, they are usually not seen in victims that survive their burns. Forth degree burns usually result in death.

One of the most important lessons to learn in regards to burns is to keep the area clean and make sure whoever is treating the burn has washed their hands. Also, important is to avoid using ice, topical ointment or creams during the initial treatment of the wound. Make sure the burn has been cooled before applying any topical ointment. The ointment actually traps the heat and can make the burn worse.

Whenever someone has been burned, the first step is to assess the injury and determine how severe the wound is. If the burn is ever in the eyes, mouth or genital area, seek medical attention for care. If the burn is anywhere else, access the wound. If the burn is red and in a small localized area then you can proceed with home treatment.

When someone has been burned and it seems to be less severe, the first step is to cool the wound down. Do not use ice! Preferably, hold the wound under cold water for 10 to 15 minutes, to allow time for the wound to cool down. You could also use cold compresses, such as a wet cloth. This will help to keep the wound from spreading and relieve the pain. Also, to help with the pain, administer oral acetaminophen, following the dosage guidelines for an adult or child. If the recommended dosage is not available, contact your doctor. Once the wound is clean and cool you can apply antibiotic ointment and loose dry gauze to the wound. Do not apply the gauze too tight, because the wound needs breathing room to heal.

For second degree burns, the steps are the same as those for first degree burns, as long as the burn is localized and not over a significant area of the body. Once the wound is cool and dry, apply an antibiotic ointment daily, as well as a clean dry dressing. Make sure to keep the wound clean and as dry as possible, to help with the healing and prevent infection. If the wound starts to swell or is painful, seek medical attention.

If you suspect a third degree burn, then seek medical attention immediately. Do not self treat the wound. Third degree burns can be life threatening and require extensive treatment. Sometimes, third degree burns may not hurt as much as first or second-degree burns, because of the damage to the nerves and loss of sensation at the burn area. Access the wound based on appearance. If you are unsure of the severity of the burn, it is best to have trained medical staff access the injury.

If ever a burn develops blisters, leave them alone. Blisters are part of the healing process of a burn. If blisters burst on their own, try to keep them clean and dry. Infections are possible and can be dangerous, especially if the wound is exposed.

Burns can be painful and some may require medical attention. However, many times the burns will be manageable from home. Make sure to first cool down the burn while keeping the area clean. Once cool, apply antibiotic ointment and clean dry gauze. Remember to change the bandages frequently and keep the area clean. Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.


Related Posts